Encapsulates the bravery, intrigue, and compassion that defined a generation, presenting a history that everyone should...

Fifty years on, readers reminisce with a young black girl who recalls how black sanitation workers launched a movement for equal rights and safer working conditions and stayed committed to justice amid tragic loss.

Basing her story on the true accounts of Dr. Almella Starks-Umoja, Duncan creates 9-year-old Lorraine Jackson to tell the full story of the Memphis sanitation strike of 1968. The story begins not with the entrance of Martin Luther King, who would arrive in March, but in January, when the tragic deaths of two black garbagemen due to old, malfunctioning equipment added to calls for change. The author’s choice to not focus on the singular efforts of King but on the dedicated efforts of community signals a deeply important lesson for young readers. Strong historical details back up the organizing feat: “In the morning and afternoon, for sixty-five days, sanitation workers marched fourteen blocks through the streets of downtown Memphis.” The narrative is set in vignettes that jump between verse and prose, set against Christie’s bold paintings. Lorraine learns that “Dreamers never quit” after reminiscing on what would be Dr. King’s final lecture, delivered on April 3. The struggle doesn’t end with King’s death but continues with the spotlight cast by Coretta Scott King on the sanitation workers’ demands. “Freedom is never free,” Lorraine notes before closing with the thought that it remains our mission to “Climb up the MOUNTAINTOP!”

Encapsulates the bravery, intrigue, and compassion that defined a generation, presenting a history that everyone should know: required and inspired. (Picture book. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62979-718-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018


Imagine compressing one hundred years of American history into 48 pages! Imagine making history come alive with photographs of people dressed in period costumes, slipping in odd historical facts while debunking myths, tucking in colonial crafts kids can try at home, and providing a sympathetic narrator who attempts to present the point of view of European settlers, Native Americans, African slaves, and indentured servants. The author of this title and American Revolution, 1700–1800 (see above) in the “Chronicle of America” series, tries hard, but the snippets selected to add interest, the overly dramatic prose, lack of sources, and excessive compression of complex issues make this title less than successful. Each double-paged layout tackles a new topic. Those include the voyage, first Americans, food, clothing, shelter, education, warfare, illness, farming, crafts, and the like. Topics usually begin with questions in italics to stimulate reader interest. For example: “How would you feel if you sat down to a dinner of meat loaf with maggots?” An introductory paragraph or two follows with short discussions of related topics, three or four uncaptioned photographs of people and objects from America’s Living History Museums, and a tan, blue, or red box with a “surprising history” snippet, or a colonial craft to try. Unsupported statistics abound, “In the early days of the European settlements, 80 percent of the people who came to Virginia died once they got there.” Or, “It took 2500 trees to build a ship the size of the Mayflower.” Or, “After months at sea with no fresh food, is it any wonder that some early settlers were forced to turn to cannibalism?” The glossy photos and breezy tone will appeal to young history enthusiasts, but caution should be exercised lest the reader come away with some very odd ideas about the past. The author concludes with a few titles for further reading, Web sites, picture credits, and an index. (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-439-05107-X

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000



Readers of this moving refugee story will celebrate as well.

New in Canada and unable even to understand the language, Tuyet faces a painful operation to straighten an ankle bent by polio years earlier in Vietnam.

Skrypuch continues the story she began in Last Airlift: A Vietnamese Orphan’s Rescue from War (2012), but it’s not necessary to have read the first to appreciate this true story of healing. Drawing on her subject’s reminiscences, the author describes Tuyet’s operation and subsequent recovery with sympathy and respect. Although this takes place in 1975, it seems immediate. Seven-year-old Tuyet secretly dreams of being able to kick a ball and play with other children. As long as she can remember, she has only been able to watch. Shortly after her adoption by the Morris family, a Vietnamese-speaking woman comes to explain that she will be having an operation. After, another Vietnamese speaker visits her in the hospital and gives her a piece of paper with Vietnamese and English words she can point to when she needs something. Otherwise, this brave child endures this frightening experience without the ability to communicate. Her eventual joy at having red shoes that match and, even better, a brace and ugly brown built-up shoe that allow her to stand on her own two feet, is infectious.

Readers of this moving refugee story will celebrate as well. (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-927485-01-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Pajama Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2012

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